A memorial installment. The following column, mailed to subscribers in October 1998, appeared in Loekie Schwartz’s Dutch translation in Het Financieele Dagblad in the issue dated 31 October & 2 November 1998. I am putting it online now in tribute to two exceptional colleagues who both died this week. Hessel Miedema was a fellow art historian and Joop van Coevorden a fellow publisher, for both of whom I have measureless respect. Together, they raised to a new level the study of the greatest single book on early Dutch art, Karel van Mander’s Lives. When I wrote “Indeed, one can no longer read van Mander at all without Miedema, whose exhaustive commentary is one of the great achievements of present-day art history,” I should have said in so many words that the appearance of that commentary was due to the entrepreneurship, the good taste and dedication above and beyond the call of normal duty of Joop van Coevorden, in his DAVACO press. Their publication was financed in part by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and Stichting Charema.
Country life in the Dutch Republic can be said to have started in the village where Loekie and I have lived for fifty years. The protection from overdevelopment that we enjoy had its origins in the conversion of farmhouses to country homes in the 1620s. Looking more closely at the circumstances, Schwartz finds that the impulse to do so came from two Amsterdam brothers-in-law, out to impress their wives’ wealthy father.
To mark the publication of the Dutch edition of a book on Pieter Saenredam that I wrote with Marten Jan Bok, the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem invited us to install a small exhibition in the museum. The central work was Saenredam’s painting of the town hall of Haarlem. Marten Jan and I wrote a booklet to accompany the show. In it we expressed the wish that the museum acquire the painting. This has not happened. It remained with Wildenstein & Co. until they put it into a sale at Sotheby’s New York on 28 January 2016. I am told that it was purchased by a married couple of distinguished American collectors who are planning to donate it to a U.S. museum. All the better that it has passed into the hands of people who really want it.
In the Art Bulletin issue of June 1997, a number of scholars were asked to put into writing their thoughts on “Digital culture and the practices of art and art history.” My contribution predicts that viewers will be given increased control over the ways they look at art, and looks forward to the implementation of instruments that can enrich museum visits. Had I known at the time that “augmented reality” already had a name, I would have used that term.
In his paintings of faces Rembrandt displays knowledge of a particular muscular feature, the one that gives some people bags under their eyes. Schwartz became mildly obsessed with following this from face to face and found that Rembrandt never gave paying sitters the bags he admits to in some self-portraits and mercilessly records when painting old studio models.
The 350th anniversary of the Treaty of Münster and the Peace of Westphalia was celebrated with symposia in Münster, Osnabrück and the Louvre. My contribution in Paris was a lecture on the image of Dutch burghers in painting with respect to the Eighty Years War.
“City fathers as civic warriors,” in: Jacques Thuillier and Klaus Bussmann, coordinators [aside: the editors, who should have been mentioned on the title page, were Hermann Arnhold and Matthias Waschek], 1648: Paix de Westphalie. L’art entre la guerre et la paix | Westfälischer Friede. Die Kunst zwischen Krieg und Frieden. Actes du colloque organisé par le Westfälisches Landesmuseum le 19 november 1998 à Münster et à Osnabrück et le Service culturel du musée du Louvre les 20 et 21 novembre 1998 à Paris, Paris (Louvre and Klincksieck) and Münster (Westfälisches Landesmuseum) 1999, pp. 201-225
The proceedings were published in a thick, tightly bound volume that is difficult to scan. Apologies as well for the lack of complete titles in the notes – the bibliographies of the individual essays are combined at the end in a 28-page section. For full references, send me a mail.
Schwartz muses on the Dutch research libraries he loves to visit, reminiscing about the past and worrying about the future.
Schwartz uncovers misappropriations of the great Dutch artist by a raft of writers and an artist. Is he sorry he didn’t write a novel about Vermeer? Maybe.
March 2001 Art in America pp. 104-07 (can be enlarged with CTRL+ for legibility)
Last paragraph and notes (all numbered i – you can link them to their place in the text if you really want to)
Like the conjunctions of stars and planets, artists can become aligned so closely that you can’t see the difference between one and another. When that happens, the result can be greater than the sum of the parts. Schwartz looks at two Italian and two Dutch pairs of artists who entered into bondings of that kind.
Publishing a book is in part like throwing a bottled message into the sea. One such message, in a book by the Holocaust victim Charlotte Salomon that I brought out in 1981, was answered with a beautiful letter from a witness to the creation of Charlotte’s masterpiece. Schwartz is upset that the author of a big new book on the artist exploits that letter but ignores its writer.